Introducing the perfect cheesecake recipe. This classic cheesecake is made with just 7 simple ingredients and produces a rich cheesecake worthy of the Cheesecake Factory!
The Perfect Cheesecake
Let’s talk cheesecake. About how it’s, like, the best dessert ever?! How, when done perfectly, it’s creamy, rich, tangy, velvety, and slightly sweet all at the same time.
But how do you make a cheesecake that does all these things? What’s the secret? Or secrets? Well. I’m breaking it down for you. Let’s talk about how to make the perfect cheesecake of your dreams. My easy cheesecake recipe will turn out silky smooth, luscious cheesecake every single time.
This is one of those solid, foolproof, dependable (how many synonyms can I come up with to convince you that this cheesecake is what recipe dreams are made of. In fact, this cheesecake is so sturdy that I dropped the whole thing on the ground before shooting it and it still looks THIS good. So, you can rest assured that this perfect cheesecake will survive a trip in the car or a week in the fridge.
Ingredients for the classic cheesecake recipe
Can I let you in on a little secret? Cheesecake is actually super easy to make. AND it’s made from less than 10 ingredients. I know that when you eat a thick slice of cheesecake out at the Cheesecake Factory you might assume it’s some fancy confection that requires speciality ingredients or pastry chef abilities, but you’ll actually only need these 7 ingredients and some basic reading comprehension skills. Here’s your grocery list:
Cream cheese: We prefer Philadelphia cream cheese because it really is the cream cheese of the crop. I truly believe cheesecake is one of the rare cases where the off-brand option really does make a difference–this isn’t sponsored, it’s just what I’ve found to be true! Philly cream cheese always produces a foolproof creamy, clump free cheesecake! Make sure you get the full fat kind 🙂
Sour cream: We find that a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese makes for the creamiest, dreamiest, perfectly tangy cheesecake. Make sure your sour cream is also at room temperature to make sure it beats right into the cream cheese without any problems.
Granulated Sugar: Some people make cheesecake with powdered sugar, but we have no problems using granulated sugar. It beats a little more air into your cheesecake without creating too many air bubbles.
Eggs: Make sure your eggs are true room temperature to ensure they seamlessly incorporate into the cream cheese and sour cream mixture!
Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract is life. It really takes this lemon curd cheesecake recipe from good to great. We suggest splurging on a high quality pure vanilla extract. You won’t regret it.
Graham cracker crumbs: Any brand of graham crackers will do! Simply pulse them in a food processor or buy a box of pre crumbled graham cracker crumbs!
Butter: Melted butter will hold together the graham cracker crust for the perfect buttery base to this lemon curd cheesecake!
Tips for making the best cheesecake…ever.
Even though cheesecake is a simple recipe, it can take a few gos at it to really understand how to get that dreamy texture. Luckily for you I’ve made thousands of cheesecakes, so I have all the perfect cheesecake tips and tricks you’ll ever neeed:
Make sure ALL ingredients are at true room temperature: I cannot stress how important this is. The cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream must all be at TRUE room temperature in order to beat together into a creamy, clump-free cheesecake. When your ingredients are all the same soft temperature you won’t have to beat your cheesecake batter for as long, which means less air in your batter, which means a creamier cheesecake. I recommend leaving your ingredients out on the counter for at least 2 hours. I usually do it overnight.
Do not over beat the cheesecake: Over beating the cheesecake causes air bubbles. And air bubbles mean one thing: cracks. Only beat the cheesecake mixture until it’s creamy!
Give the crust just as much attention as the cheesecake batter: The crust is paramount to a perfect cheesecake. Make sure you’re getting good graham crackers (I recommend Honeymaid or Keebler), high quality butter and packing it in really well to create that dense, chewy, slightly sweet base.
Strain your cheesecake batter: Another trick to perfect cheesecake is straining your cheesecake batter through a fine mesh strainer. This will remove any remaining lumps that would otherwise affect the texture of your cheesecake. We want every last bite of our cheesecake to be smooth AF, so this step ensures that!
Don’t over bake the cheesecake: The last thing you want is an over baked cheesecake. It turns out to be rubbery and sad. Only bake the cheesecake until it is just set in the middle–about 55 minutes!
How to make the perfect Cheesecake
Alright now that you have all the information you need, let’s break down how to make perfect cheesecake. Step by Step!
Step One: Make the graham cracker crust.
Combine all of the graham cracker crust ingredients and use your fingers to rub the mixture together until it looks like wet sand. The mixture will be moist, but crumbly.
Step Two: Pack the graham cracker crust into your cheesecake pan.
Line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper and generously grease the sides of your pan with butter. Then transfer your graham cracker crust to your pan, using a smaller flat pan or measuring cup to form it into an even layer.
Step Three: Start making your cheesecake batter. Beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar.
Step Four: Add the vanilla extract and eggs. Do not over mix.
Step Five: Use a fine mesh sieve to strain your cheesecake batter over the crust into the pan.
Step Six: Place the cheesecake into the preheated oven on the middle rack and bake for 55 minutes.
At the 55 minute mark, turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Leave the cheesecake in your turned of oven to allow the cheesecake to cool down gradually. After an hour, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Use a butter knife to release the cheesecake from the sides of the pan.
Step Seven: Place the cheesecake in the fridge to set overnight. Once set, serve cold!
How to prevent cheesecake from cracking
Is there anything worse than a cracked cheesecake? I mean yes, probably. Most definitely. But in the context of homemade cheesecake making…no, no there’s not. Luckily for you, I have made many a cracked cheesecake, so I’ve learned exactly how to prevent any fissures in your otherwise silky smooth cheesecake.
Don’t overbeat the eggs: If you beat air into the eggs they can cause bubbles and cracks in your cheesecake. Our advice? Beat the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar until it’s super creamy, but not fluffy– about 2 minutes only. And absolutely DO NOT overbeat the eggs. Beat them in one at time until just combined and then turn the mixer off forever. Trust me. As long as your ingredients were at *true* room temperature (as I yelled at you about earlier hehe), everything will be silky smooth without any excessive mixing.
Bake the cheesecake at a low temperature with added water: Fill a 9 x 13 inch pan with water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven while the cheesecake bakes. This will create homemade cheesecake’s preferred habitat: a steamy, humid oven. The extra moisture helps the cheesecake stay dense and moist, thus discouraging any cracking.
Leave the cheesecake in the oven after baking: Big changes in temperature = cracks. After the cheesecake is done baking, turn off the oven and open the door. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour to come to room temperature slowly
Happy cheesecake baking, my friends. And more importantly happy cheesecake eating.
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full sheets)
½ cup salted butter, melted
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the Cheesecake
3 packages (8 ounces each) Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese, room temperature
8 ounces sour cream, room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a 9 or 10 inch springform pan (or a cheesecake pan if you have it!) with parchment paper on the bottom and grease the sides of the pan well.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt, stirring together until combined. The mixture will be dry and sandy. Press the graham cracker crust into the prepared pan, pressing it firmly into an even layer. Set aside.
Fill a 9 x 13 inch pan with water and place in the oven to create a water bath for the cheesecake. This will help to prevent any cracks.
While the oven preheats, make the cheesecake. Whip the softened cream cheese, room temperature sour cream, and granulated sugar together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and then the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined.
Pour the cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust in the springform pan. Drop the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.
Carefully place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 55 minutes, rotating the cheesecake halfway. Do not over bake! The cheesecake will still be wobbly in the center, but this is correct!
At the 55 minutes mark, turn off the oven and open the door to the oven slightly. Leave the cheesecake in the turned off oven for an hour to allow the cheesecake to cool down gradually.
After an hour, take it out of the oven, run a knife along the edges to release from the pan and set on a cooling rack for 1 hour to come to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with tinfoil and place it in the fridge to set overnight.
When ready to serve, release the springform pan and remove the rim of the pan carefully. Top with whipped cream and lemon zest. Slice into 16 servings and enjoy!